As Good As It Gets (1997)

Description[from Freebase]

As Good as It Gets is a 1997 American romantic comedy film directed by James L. Brooks and produced by Laura Ziskin. It stars Jack Nicholson as a misanthropic, obsessive-compulsive novelist, Helen Hunt as a single mother with an asthmatic son, and Greg Kinnear as a gay artist. The screenplay was written by Mark Andrus and James L. Brooks. Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won the Academy Award for Best Actor and Academy Award for Best Actress, respectively, making As Good As It Gets the latest film to win both of the lead acting awards, and the first since 1991. It is ranked 140th on Empire magazine's "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time" list. Melvin Udall is a misanthrope who works at home as a best-selling novelist in New York City. He suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder which, paired with his misanthropy, alienates nearly everyone with whom he interacts. He eats breakfast at the same table in the same restaurant every day using disposable plastic utensils he brings with him due to his pathological mysophobia. He takes an interest in his waitress, Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt), the only server at the restaurant who can tolerate his behavior.

Review

As Good As It Gets

Some of the most memorable one-liners of the year, Jack Nicholson’s best role since Chinatown, Greg Kinnear’s best role since… well, since ever, and a story I think we can all relate to – what does As Good As It Gets not have?

Aside from a few quibbles, As Good As It Gets really stands out as one of the year’s best films. Mark Nicholson down for a well-deserved Oscar. In fact, just watching him do two hours of his irredeemable Melvin by himself would be a treat. Match him up with a fine supporting cast, and it’s golden.

The story doesn’t really lend itself to explanation, but I’ll try anyway. Melvin is a famous novelist, as eccentric and neurotic as they come. Obsessed with ritual, leaving the house is an ordeal. Hell, opening the door is an ordeal. But when tragedy befalls his gay artist neighbor (Kinnear), Melvin rises to the task and finds himself on a bit of a personal journey, to risk sounding sentimental.

Along for the ride is Helen Hunt’s Carol, the waitress with whom Melvin is quietly smitten. And though the three seem as far off from one another as they come, they actually have one thing in common: they’re all plain nuts. And it doesn’t sound like it, but the way these three help each other through bad times makes for some powerful and quite hilarious cinema.

For what it’s worth, Hunt is in fine form, redeeming herself for her now-hateful character on TV’s Mad About You, and maybe it was watching Nicholson here that made her that way. My only real complaint is that, while it’s a fun ride, the movie is a bit circuitous, and after two hours, I’m not sure I buy the resolution.

But it doesn’t really matter. As Good As It Gets finally tells it like it is: most of us are nuts. In fact, most of us are completely nuts! And if you look hard enough, there really may be someone out there for all of us, to help us make some sense of this wild ride we’re on after all.

Recommended for screwballs of all ages.

Nicholson meets his match.

Portions from Freebase, licensed under CC-BY and Wikipedia licensed under the GFDL